Recently, a friend told me that she decided to open her heart and forgive a man she once knew. This particular man had let her down by disappearing after 5 months of long-distance dating. With good reason, she’d become very confused and angry. The questions that had been left unanswered made him a jerk (among other expletives!) in her eyes. After 7 long months, she finally decided that the energy spent thinking about him could be used in so many more positive and useful ways. So one day, she sat down in her living room, closed her eyes and set an intention to “receive.” She intentionally opened her heart and let the anger and confusion pour out to clear up space for more love. Five minutes later, she received an email from the man she had dated asking her to give him another chance.
This doesn’t happen every day. But it does happen.
As Vidya Carolyn Dell’uomo writes in her article Experiments in Love:
Our mind has a much better time of it when our relationships are either-or. It’s simpler, cleaner, clearer. We either like somebody, or we don’t. We don’t have to ride the swinging door of contradiction between caring for our loved one in one moment, then resenting them the next. But holding both is, in fact, holding what is real. We both love and defend (or offend), at the same time. And it hurts!
But to practice tools that keep the door of our heart oiled versus rusted or slammed shut is what we are called to. It may be yoga, walks in the woods, worship, meditation, therapy, service, prayer, or reflection—anything that quiets the mind, softens the heart’s holdings, and allows the light of insight to occur. These practices allow love to find us and for us to make peace, first with reality, then with ourselves. “Love comes looking for us,” writes Swami Kripalu. “Every living being stands in a stream of love.”
I find myself going back to this quote time and time again. It has undoubtedly helped me to improve the relationships I have with the people I love as I now understand that softening the heart does not breed weakness. Instead, it allows for compassion and love. Opening the heart takes time but the effects will last a lifetime.